Bring on the light

“Alright, your reminder is set for 5 this afternoon.”

That’s a sentence I never thought I’d hear in my life. Five pm has always been evening for me. In India, it’s tea time. It’s that wonderful part of the day everyone waits for all day, shuffling in their seats, under the sweltering pressure of workload in an air-conditioned office. It’s the time to crack those knuckles, stretch those calves, and walk up to the canteen for some piping chai and samosas. And gossip. Or in my case, people watching.

Soon after that break, some would go straight home at 5:30 while some others would go back to their seats, to Facebook or YouTube before heading out.

Five o’clock was a magical time.

When I arrived in Canberra just before winter, it was almost the same. Except, as we stepped deeper into the icy dryness or the cold, five became something of a warning time—for me, in particular. It was still magical, but instead of it signalling the end of the work day, it felt more like the end of the day itself. Darkness would arrive not long after and I didn’t want to wander the still-unfamiliar streets. By seven, although not tired, I was drained of all mental energy. Lethargy wrapped itself round my shoulders, an extra layer over my blanket, comforting, cocooning me in its warm embrace. It wouldn’t leave until 10 the next morning. 

Productivity stooped. It didn’t help that I was working from home. Two hours of continuous work felt like an achievement.

Then came spring.

Today, I’ve done more things in a day than I thought was possible. And it’s still afternoon. It’s my first experience with the season, and even though I whined to a friend how hot it is during the day, I’m still pleased that I have enough time to do things I’ve always meant to do.

I’m enjoying the daylight and all up for making the most of it—although, on the first day of Daylight Savings, I caught the massive clock in the city (like Big Ben, but smaller and in Canberra) an hour behind my automatic smartphone’s time, and had a small panic attack.

All that aside, it’s warm and beautiful now. Super hot during the late-morning or early-afternoon hours, but as the day wanes, light shines through spaces between trees, refracting through the window panes, and ricocheting off my specs.

Love it.

Flowers in springtime, Canberra, Australia

Giving way

Winter weeps from trees
under the arch on Sunday
as time marries spring

Spring blossoms, Canberra

First signs

Week-kneed, overwhelmed
as sore as a soccer mom
peers through winter, spring

Gone are the days

Winter’s almost over in Canberra, and since the start of June, I’ve been entertaining the possibility of a half-rant, half-awe blog post marvelling the mystic that is this season. It was my first winter, and along with everything I expected, it was also every bit as unexpected.

From waking up at 4 am with numb feet, to feeling my innards shivering in the late afternoons, partly in hunger and partly in the unfamiliarity of the nail-biting weather, every day of the last couple of months has been an adventure.

I’d wake up at seven am, and the sun wouldn’t show up until at least ten past. And even before I could get back to the comfort of my insulated, carpeted bedroom, the sun would be gone, shrouded in mist and icy breeze.

Though I was comfortable—with lifesaving heating and miraculous thermal socks—my feet and palms were almost always chilly. As if they were entities separate from the rest of my body. While thermal socks prevented the cold from getting onto my feet, it also arrested the lingering cold, like a shadow unshakeable even in the pitch of darkness.

It didn’t take long for the tiniest of my toes to lose warmth. Unless directly placed under the sun or hot shower, they remained solid and distant. The first few seconds of warm water on my feet would feel cold. It’d take a while for the heat to permeate the blanket of chillness.

That’s when I realised winter’s real power. It was eleven degrees, felt like nine, and yet the UV index was high enough to slow-burn the skin.

Now, though, I awake at 5:30, and there’s light on the horizon. Pinkish shards shoot through the sky, hitting me right in the face as a dart on a target board, paving way for the warm glow of orange morning, elbowing its way past the silver linings, as hopeful soldiers in the border. By the time I set to work, heatwaves pierce through my window, ricocheting ultra-violetness into my messy room, revealing crumbs from dinner and sheared strands of stray hair.

Winter’s gone, and it’s left me rather bittersweet.

Foggy day by Lake Ginninderra, Canberra

Covered

Shroud of mystery
the city undercover
a siege by nature


Photo: Foggy day by Lake Ginninderra, Canberra